Agri-tech innovator Plant Agricultural Systems (Plant-AS) announced its planned investment of $750 million in the development of advanced production facilities in Baker County, Florida, with plans to hire more than 600 full-time employees as it scales up operations over the next eight years. The Fort Lauderdale-based agricultural services provider of physical and digital infrastructure to support demand for localized fresh produce around the world will build facilities that will span 8.1 million square feet across 772 acres in the town of Sanderson.
The Sanderson plant is part of Plant-AS’ first phase of its domestic operations roll-out, which encompasses the development of nearly 2,000 acres of “controlled environment agriculture” (CEA) production in the United States — this production will allow for fresh produce, such as leafy greens and vine crops, to be grown using state-of-the-art hydroponic technology. The plant will be solar-powered, and the production process will use 70-90 percent less water than conventional agriculture.
More innovation than agriculture, PLANT-AS’ facilities are modern data centers supported by artificial intelligence processing and uses blockchain to transform the global food supply chain, allowing consumers the ability to trace the freshest, most sustainable produce from production to distribution to consumption using a digital code.
“It’s great to have the food production and the jobs, but the technology that’s involved [in this project] is phenomenal,” said Darryl Register, Executive Director of the Baker County Chamber of Commerce and the Baker County Economic Development Commission. “It’ll be a first-of-its-kind technology that will be utilized and seen by everyone, and we think it will change the way that our food is grown in America.”
The combined net negative environmental impact of such a power model, along with the advanced production process, is a landmark advancement in resource management for the Jacksonville region and sets a new standard for the industry, according to the company.
Advanced manufacturing projects like PLANT-AS’ CEA production facilities thrive in Northeast Florida as innovation, skilled talent and the region’s commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem will only continue to drive economic growth.